Rush retains Toughman belt
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
The young lion took down the king of the jungle at the Toughman Hawaii King of the Rings kickboxing gala Saturday night.
Dylan Rush employed a stick-and-move boxing strategy against Deutsch Pu‘u to retain his Toughman super heavyweight belt before 2,000 fans at Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium.
Rush, a 2006 Ka‘u High graduate, defeated Pu‘u, a K-1 fighter, in a five-round decision, showing a solid chin while catching a bunch of hard jabs from the Oahu challenger in the third round.
Whenever he went into the danger zone — close enough where Pu‘u could deliver something hard — Rush got in a few good licks and vanished back to the perimeter, looking for points instead of a knockout.
When Rush wakes up today, he’ll be a bit sore but will also have reason to celebrate his 25th birthday with accomplishment because it’s likely the last kickboxing event of his career.
He will turn pro in mixed martial arts with a fight on July 28 on Maui. His kickboxing record is now 3-0, the same mark as his MMA amateur record, which gets wiped clean.
Meanwhile, Pu‘u, who recently re-signed to fight for K-1 again, falls to 4-3 in kickboxing. He has a pro MMA record of 4-2.
Despite all the punches Rush landed, Pu‘u never went down, never wobbled and never looked in trouble. However, he couldn’t catch the young lion, who kept punching his way to victory.
End of grudge
Micah Abreu-Laybon defeated old-tattoo nemesis Petey Vital by a three-round decision, settling a hornet’s nest beef that brewed between the two during a prior Toughman.
At the referee’s instructions, both were respectful and offered not a hint of a mad-dog staredown. But the fireworks started right when the bell rang.
The two competitors were so jacked up to knock each other’s block off that neither could get into any type of fighting groove. They often tangled each other with takedowns, which is not allowed in kickboxing.
As far as action, in the first round, Abreu-Laybon missed on a spinning backhand, and Vital was waiting with a punch to the chin. In the second, Abreu-Laybon caught Vital with a flying knee to his face, sending him to the mat.
The third round disintegrated into bear hugs and takedowns. And after the decision was announced, the two shared a hug, putting to bed any bad feelings, at least until the next Toughman.
Leo takes title
Unlike the last time, Tyler Leopoldino made weight, and beat Theodore Brown, again, this time for the Toughman 120-pound flyweight belt, scoring a knockout 1:12 minutes into the second round.
In the first round, Leopoldino ripped two hard knees to Brown’s face. The only thing that stopped him from landing more was the bell.
Leopoldino smoked a left hook to Brown’s noggin, sending him crashing into the ropes. And the challenger followed with a knee. By then the Waianae champion was wobbly and Leopoldino went back to the same combination of knees and hard punches for the title-clinching victory.
In other bouts:
• Johnavan Visante defeated Lavelle Brown by first-round technical knockout, 1:22 minutes into the second round.
Brown came out with a pair of flying knees to close the gap on Visante’s length. But after that exchange, Brown went back in and Visante dropped two knees to the head.
Visante, from Waianae and a The Ultimate Fighter contestant, then had Brown trapped in a corner and unleased a pair of elbows to the head, stunning the Hilo fighter for the TKO.
• Donald Gonzales Jr. def. Conrado Martin by decision. In the third and most exciting round, the two fighters used each other as punching bags, absolutely teeing off and throwing nonstop blows. But Gonzales’ earlier work in the other rounds earned him the decision.
• Ashton Castro def. L. John Borges by decision. In the first round, Castro clinched and pulled Borges’ head down and pile-drived knees. Borges slammed a hard kick to Castro’s left fibula in the second round, sending Castro to the mat. The third round looked pretty even, but Castro did enough to score the win.
• Elijah Manners def. Keoni Rodrigues by second-round knockout, 28 seconds. In the first round, Rodrigues attempted a flying knee, but Manners countered with a clean body shot. In the second, Manners crashed a right hook to Rodrigues’ head. Then after a standing-eight count, Rodrigues missed on a right hook, and Manners returned a left hook for the KO.
• Matt Majamay def. Jai Troche by decision. Majamay attacked Troche and turned up the heat when he trapped him in corners. Majamay floored Troche at the end of the second round, but saved his best action for the third, blasting a pair of flying knees to Troche’s gut.
• Dustin Ah Chong def. Ikaika Rodrigues by decision. Ah Chong got the better of the exchanges in all three rounds, pressing the tempo and backing Rodrigues into corners. Once he got Rodrigues there, he threw more body shots and haymakers to the head.
• Nic Das def. Juanito Raquel by decision. Das floored Juanito three times, in the first round with a right hook, in the second with a Superman punch, and straight kick to the midsection in the third round.
• Kris Moniz def. Blayne Wagner by decision. The highlight was a second-round straight right by Moniz that connected on Wagner’s chin and made him backpedal a few feet.
• Haley Pasion def. Riechelle Silva by second-round knockout, 51 seconds. Pasion, from Oahu, caught Silva in a corner and fired left and right hooks, tagging Silva’s chin and dropping her for a KO. Earlier in the round, Pasion’s head buckled backward when Silva slammed a punch to her chin, but though the victor flinched she didn’t go down.
• Bunyart Kongmark def. Isaiah Ho by decision. Kongmark, from Thailand, went on all Muay Thai on Ho in the first round, clinching his head ad landing six straight knees to the stomach. Ho, the hometown boy, gave the crowd something to cheer about in the next two rounds, getting in a few good cracks, but not enough for a deciding vote.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald
Pu‘u’s passion is giving back
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Deutsch Pu‘u knew he would have a good feeling in his heart — whether he won or lost — after his fight against Dylan Rush in the main event of the Toughman Hawaii King of the Rings kickboxing gala on Saturday night.
Pu‘u, 34, remembers he was in the same boat as Rush, 24, five years ago — just starting his career and looking to battle a big name. Now, Pu‘u is an established fighter, headlining the first X-1 mixed martial arts event in Hawaii in 2003 and kickboxing for the K-1 organization.
The Oahu challenger entered the night with a 4-2 kickboxing record. He also has a 4-2 MMA record, all pro bouts. Rush, a 2006 Ka‘u High graduate, will make his MMA pro debut against Analu Brash on July 28 on Maui.
Three weeks ago, Pu‘u re-signed a contract with K-1, a worldwide company, but he earlier agreed to fight in Toughman to not only draw a crowd at Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium, but also to offer Rush, who entered with a 2-0 kickboxing record and 3-0 MMA amateur record, a worthy opponent.
“I’m a man of my word. My management team spoke to the new owners of K-1 and they said it was OK,” Pu‘u said. “A lot of people said if I lost to Dylan it would be a career-killer. But I know where Dylan is coming from. He wants to fight the best of the best.”
Five years ago, Pu‘u was the young lion on the rise. He was scheduled to fight a big name, Wesley “Cabbage” Correira, who competed in the UFC, but forfeited his match against Pu‘u in a X-1 MMA event on Aug. 4, 2007.
“I wanted to give Dylan a chance to fight a big name, a chance I didn’t get at the time,” said Pu‘u, who speaks in the soft-spoken, polite manner of a military man.
Pu‘u, the son of a retired master sergeant of the infantry, was born in Germany (the reason for his German first name), raised in Samoa and later moved to Hawaii, where made himself into a household MMA presence.
But first he had to deal with an injury that almost killed him.
He was in the Army from August 1995 to April 2003, getting deployed nine times, including three tours to Iraq. In his last tour, he led a foot patrol and a roadside IED blew up, knocking him out and nearly tearing his right arm off.
“The doctors told me I would never use my right arm again,” he said. “Physical therapy does wonders.”
Hard work and determination got him back in the ring, a sport he started as a 5-year-old. He eventually became an All-Army boxing champ, and later lost in the quarterfinals of the U.S. nationals Olympic boxing trials.
He’s in the K-1 final U.S. 16-field, which gets narrowed to eight in a fight card Sept. 7 in Los Angeles. The whittling continues October in Miami and finally December in New York. The winner joins a worldwide K-1 field.
“The U.S. winner gets a sizable check,” he said. “You can earn enough to make a living. There’s always pressure, but if you impress even with a loss they may sign you up to fight again.
“The advice I would give to the aspiring fighters is to train hard and fight harder. There’s nothing else to it. Someone will recognize you. The best way is to knock people out and win.”
But Pu‘u does much more than that. He also started his own management company, Samoa MMA Promotions. His biggest passion, however, is returning aloha.
“This K-1 is my last tournament,” he said. “I’m literally the person who brought MMA to American Samoa. I opened the biggest gym in Samoa and it’s free of charge. I’m opening one in Waipahu and it’s the same thing. It’s free.
“I was born in Germany, raised in Samoa and turned pro in Hawaii. I just want to give back. I can do this because of my Army retirement. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve always been taken care of. It’s my way of giving back and touching others.”
Source: Hawaii tribune herald
GREG HONDA photo
Dylan Rush blocks a kick from Chris Barnard in a Toughman super heavyweight title bout in March. Rush won by fourth-round TKO. He defends his belt against Deustch Pu‘u, a former K-1 fighter, at Saturday night’s Toughman Hawaii King of the Ring.
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Dylan Rush will either exit as a Toughman Hawaii King of the Ring or a defeated champion, who lost his belt to a challenger with impressive credentials, including a heavy right hand.
In his last amateur bout, Rush will put his super heavyweight title on the line against Deutsch Pu‘u, a former K-1 fighter, in the main event of the Toughman Hawaii kickboxing gala on Saturday night.
Rush is 2-0 in kickboxing and 3-0 in mixed martial arts. It’s likely his last kickboxing fight. The former Stanford wrestler will make his MMA pro debut against Analu Brash in an Unorthodox Industries Championship bout July 28 on Maui.
He signed with a management company, One Dream Zero Distractions, based in Nevada. Rush, 24 and a Ka‘u High graduate, plans to move to Las Vegas after his pro debut to pick up local pro fights and build his record, hoping to reach his dream of landing a job in Hong Kong with the UFC.
But first Rush faces Pu‘u, who has a 3-2 MMA pro record, including two straight losses, the last to Esteves Jones in a Worldwide MMA USA event in March. Pu‘u, 34, who lives in Waipahu, Oahu, also fought several times for the K-1 organization.
“It’s the biggest fight for both fighters,” Toughman promoter Wally Carvalho said. “Both fighters have big things lined up. Pu‘u signed up with K-1. He’s going back to K-1.
“Dylan has got pro fights lined up in Las Vegas. I have him on the list for the Super Fight League in India. If he goes 3-0 or 4-0 as a pro, he could be fighting out in India real soon. There are big plans for him in the MMA world and he’s on the right track.”
Rush, who graduated with a drama degree last summer at Stanford, spent a month in England training with James Thompson for his Super League Fight bout against Bobby Lashey on May 5 in India, a fight Thompson won.
That was a worthwhile experience for Rush, who was set up by Carvalho, hired as the SFL’s head cutman. Carvalho was also contracted to coach fighters.
“This card is stacked beyond stacked of any Toughman I’ve ever done. From the first to the main event, it’s nothing but nonstop action,” said Carvalho, who also added Ikaika Martin, Chris Willems, Albert Manners and Brandon Torres to the lineup. “I’ve never stacked a card this deep. Usually there are amateurs, but not for this show. They’re all veterans and guys who have won in the previous Tournament of Champions to fight on this card.
“The reason for the $10 ticket is I’m trying to build a feeder program for the Super Fight League and they need to see a big crowd. I want to bring fighters here and send fighters to India. I’m trying to develop a bridge for the two organizations to work for each other.”
Rush has spent his life wrestling, winning and improving. At the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championships, he captured three gold medals in wrestling and one in judo.
He took up judo for fun, he joked. And he also picked up kickboxing to sharpen his striking skills, and now trains with Stephen Wong, whose specialty is Muay Thai — stand-up striking combined with clinching techniques.
During his time in England, Rush helped Thompson with his wrestling. The flow of knowledge was a two-way street. Apparently, both guys got better.
“I learned how to integrate my boxing knowledge with my wrestling to have everything more MMA based,” he said. “I learned how the two things go together, how they work hand in hand.
“Wrestling is absolutely, 100 percent the most important thing in my MMA career. In wrestling, you learn personal accountability and to ignore pain and work though adversity. Not only that, but the techniques are directly applicable to MMA.”
As for his drama degree, Rush has no plans of turning into the next Robert De Niro. He’s too busy maintaining his perfect amateur fighting record, which gets wiped out once he turns pro.
“I did drama because I enjoyed it in school. I might do something with that later, but for now, no,” said Rush, who added that a fight in India would be intriguing. “If a fight in India happens, that’s great. But my ultimate goal is to fight in the UFC.”
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald
Grudge matches galore at Toughman
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Once not long ago, actually in January of last year, Lavelle Brown weighed 246 pounds, far too much weight on his 5-foot-7 frame, a situation not good for his state of mind. He’s changed a lot since then.
Now, he’s down to 165 pounds, turning himself into a lean, hard-kicking machine for a Toughman Hawaii King of the Rings welterweight grudge match Saturday at Edith Kanaka’ole Multipurpose Stadium against Johnavan Visante, a name local fight fans know well.
In one of the best knockouts in Toughman’s kickboxing history, Chris Cisneros clocked him with an overhand right and the fighter from Waianae, Oahu, fell face first, like a chopped-down tree, to the warm embrace of the canvas in April of 2011.
For those who tune in to “The Ultimate Fighter” for their television-viewing pleasure, Visante was submitted on a rear-naked choke and tapped out to Michael Chiesa, failing in his quest in March to join the big boys of the UFC, the major leagues of mixed martial arts.
There’s no love lost between Brown, who attends church in Kurtistown and teaches Polynesian art and music at Mountain View Elementary, and Visante, once an owner of seven belts of various weight classes.
“Lavelle said, ‘I fight for the kids and God.’ And Visante said, ‘I don’t care who you fight for. Nobody is going to be there to save you when you get in the ring with me.’ It’s a grudge match between them,” Toughman promoter Wally Carvalho said.
There’s nothing like a grudge match, actually one of several on the 14-bout card, and $10 tickets to pack the house. That’s sort of the formula needed to fill the joint.
Unorthodox Industries Championship promoter Russell Strong introduced the $10 ticket at his MMA event in February, and Hilo Civic turned into a sardine can.
That fight had one primo grudge match between Eddie Rodrigues and Kaiah Petrie, who won on a first-round rear-naked choke.
The Toughman is a kickboxing gala, which means takedowns are not allowed — no ground-and-pound and no rolling around the floor in bearhugs, either.
To add a little extra spice, the Brown-Visante head-banger will be under Muay Thai rules. Clinching and firing knees and using elbows will be allowed.
Carvalho caught the moons just right while scheduling opponents for his lineup because he’s got three fights with peeved-off bumble bees.
Besides Brown-Visante, other love fests include a rematch for the 120-pound flyweight title between Tyler Leopoldino and Theodore Brown, and a tattoo-inspired rematch between Petey Vital and Micah Abreu-Laybon.
In March, Leopoldino hammered Brown good and flushed a flying knee to the Waianae champion’s face, getting a second-round surrender for a TKO. But Leopoldino didn’t earn the belt because he was two pounds overweight.
The Toughman in January was highlighted by the banana-crazy cracks Vital and Abreu-Laybon were delivering to each other’s coconut. They kept whacking each other, got warned four times by the referee, and the fight was called a no contest.
Carvalho, speaking with enthusiasm in his best Dana White impersonation, thinks he’s got a whale of a spectacle with his three grudge matches, pointing out that Vital and Abreu-Laybon won’t be sending flowers to each other any time soon.
“They got disqualified for rough-housing,” he said. “There was no winner or loser. Now they get to settle it. Micah is from Waianae and originally from East Los Angeles. Vital is from East Los Angeles and now lives in Puna. They’ve got tattoos all over their bodies.
“Something clicked at the weigh-in before their fight. They looked at each and didn’t like each other. I’m not sure if it was the battle of the tattoos or what. They just didn’t like each other from the start. That’s why they’re front and center on the poster.”
Growing up in Waianae, Brown (7-0 in MMA; 0-1 in kickboxing) engaged in his share of street fights as a youth. He’s got a six-inch scar running down his forehead, courtesy of a baseball bat in a street fight.
He said he never initiated fights, but didn’t back down from one either, especially if he came to a friend in need. However, eventually he gave his mom enough grief and was kicked out the house.
“I would try to stop a fight and someone would say, ‘What, you like some?’ I wouldn’t stick my nose in other people’s business, but I had a lot of family in Makaha,” he said. “My mom raised me up to have faith and believe in Jesus. She took me back home and it reminded me how much God loves me. I had to do something right.
“I want to become a UFC champion. But more than anything, I want a safe haven for keiki, like BJ Penn’s place. But I want to run a school and have it family-oriented, a place where parents can work out and then take their kids home.”
Asked about Visante’s throw-down insult, Brown’s temperature didn’t hit the roof.
“That makes me feel better. It shows how truly humble I am,” he said. “Stuff like that doesn’t bother me at all. I fight so passive-aggressive that a lot of people think they can talk crap to me.
“After I lost to L. John Borges in the last Toughman, it made me realize I can’t always be nice. I don’t want to lose again and I need to be a little more aggressive. I go in for the kids because if little, short, fat Lavelle can be competitive than anybody can do it.”
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald